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Charl-Pierre Naudé

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Against the light launch pics and review

Charl-Pierre NaudéHere are some snaps from my book launch last week, interspersed with a review of the book from Gus Ferguson, that originally appeared (in Afrikaans translation) in Boeke-Insig.

Against the light is the English version of In die geheim van die dag.

Review of Against the light
Charl-Pierre Naudé is a local and internationally renowned Afrikaans poet. His debut collection, Die nomadiese oomblik, won the 1997 Ingrid Jonker Prize and his 2nd, In die geheim van die dag, won the Poetry Protea and the MNet Prizes for Afrikaans poetry in 2005.

Ian Leibenberg, Mariaan Roos, Riette Fern and Riana van der SchyffAgainst the light is his first English collection. Although the poems are his own translations, their fluency allows them to status of poems in their own right without the one-to-one references to the originals, as interesting as that might be. Naudé is both poet and storyteller, a rare talent – and a fine tradition – Stephen Dobyns, Billy Collins, Patrick Cullinan and Raymond Carver all spring to mind.

The opening stanza of “Here and now” aptly touches on the mysteries of translation;

Kleinboer, Hans PienaarThe American Clayton Eshleman/ tells an odd story/ about his years as a young teacher/ in Japan translating the Peruvian/ Vallejo into English./ Japan, he reasoned/ would put him into contact/ with the poet’s enigma.

The rhythm is effortless and the syntax lucid without the usual ellipses that impede so many longer poems. Here and now is a mystical metaphysic that depends, for its veracity, on the concept of ‘circular time’ – a temporal paradox.

Mabusha Masekela, Albert FrostWhat is astonishing about Naudé’s work is its thematic range, its light erudition and its plain and satisfying readability. He has, in addition, a philosophical turn of mind. In a millieu drowning in the muddy waters of Lake Lyric, ideas and conceits are welcome relief. In “Against love”, the lyric is nicely undermined by the writerly pleasure of metaphor and simile:

And now,/ has it come to this?/ We’re right next to each other but so far apart;/ two love birds transmitted by mere signals,/ breaking up./ Into four love birds./ Breaking up too like a sardine run on the make,/ with no chance of ever reaching the other shore.

Launch guestsThe longest piece in the collection is a brilliantly imagined dialogue between the Roman poets Horace and Catullus that just begs to be performed.

And finally three stanzas (not in sequence) from the title poem:

Charl-Pierre Naudé You tell me, friend,/ that the imperative for truth/ is frankness,/ and honesty (apparently)/ demands transparency.

Allow me to differ:/ what is now really needed/ is furtiveness,/ and a murky will…

Segment for segment/ honesty crawls/ in discretion.

A previous reviewer referred to Naudé’s earlier work as “poetry that makes you turn the page, as you would with a good story”. Well said! .


Charl-Pierre Naudé, Hannelie Naudé and Johannes Vogel